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THE WORLD OF AROMAS

Think of a flavour, and the chances are you can buy a tea that incorporates it. There are numerous scented teas, including lemon-grass, lime, orange and ginger, cinnamon and even chilli, pepper and chocolate.

Indeed, today's international tea market would be half its current size the popularity of scented teas. New flavours are created on a daily basis, but not all of them are worth drinking. Standards vary a great deal, so it pays to be discerning when purchasing a blend, in order to avoid disappointment.

The trick of the scenting process is to get the right balance so that it does not overwhelm the original tea. Teas with too strong a scent are unpleasant to drink, and any serious tea enthusiast would most likely turn up their nose at something that's too heavily flavoured.

Tea can be aromatised using chunks of fruit, real flowers or natural fragrances. It is like a sponge for other scents and flavours, and will pick them up simply by being in proximity to them. That puts a lot of onus on the tea taster to get the right mix of flavours in any scented tea, and it also requires use of the very finest ingredients.

FLAVOURS TO SAVOUR

Natural flavourings: include essential oils, such as orange oil or bergamot oil, aromabearing plants and plant components, and pieces of dried fruit or spices.

Flavouring preparations: these are concentrates taken from natural materials like plants and spices.

Natural flavouring substances: acquired by distillation of natural materials.

Synthetic flavouring substances: generate aromas as a result of chemical processes and are identical to materials that occur naturally.

Note: The use of flavouring substances in foodstuffs is regulated by the European regulation on flavourings (EC) No. 1334/2008. It distinguishes between flavouring substances, flavouring preparations, thermal process flavourings, smoke flavourings, flavou precursors and sors and other flavourings.

ESSENTIAL FACTS

Blends are mixtures of various types of tea, from different growing regions or from two or more pickings.

Some famous blends are: English Breakfast Tea, East Frisian blend and Russian Caravan Tea.

Flavoured teas may be green, black, white or Oolong teas, to which flavouring has been added.

The flavouring process with blossoms and spices has been used for many generations.

Flavoured teas are a good introduction to tea drinking.

Famous flavoured teas include: rose tea, jasmine tea, Lapsang Souchong and Earl Grey.